Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro review | CNN Underscored -

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro review | CNN Underscored

Less than two years after releasing the Galaxy Buds Pro, Samsung is back with a sleeker, more sophisticated and more expensive sequel to its highest-end wireless earbuds. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are an excellent addition to the company’s ever-growing audio lineup, offering an attractive, comfortable design; good active noise cancellation and lots of extras, including high-fidelity audio support for those on Galaxy devices.

There’s no denying that the Buds 2 Pro are very good, but with so many great noise-canceling earbuds available for cheap these days, are they $229.99 good? I spent a week with Samsung’s new premium buds to find out.

Premium sound and features for Android users

The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are ideal for Galaxy phone owners who don’t mind paying up for top-notch sound and lots of features. However, most people are better off with the wealth of cheaper (and still great) ANC earbuds out there.

Mike Andronico/CNN

I’ve always felt that Samsung’s Galaxy Buds have been some of the most attractive and comfortable earbuds around, and that hasn’t changed for the Buds 2 Pro. They feature the same sleek, ovular design as last year’s standard Galaxy Buds 2, with only a tiny bit more heft and a new soft-touch matte finish that replaces the glossy coating of their predecessors. I personally like the new material — both the buds and the case feel nicer to the touch and are easier to grip — though the case has picked up some noticeable wear and tear after a week in my pocket.

The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are available in black, white and an especially gorgeous Bora Purple. I wish Samsung had kept the attractive two-tone case design from the standard Buds 2, but all three color options look good up close. Like last year’s model, the Buds 2 Pro’s egg-shape exterior looks slick and unassuming all at once, and doesn’t protrude out of my ear (or hang out like the AirPods do). More importantly, they feel great, with a lightweight design that I often forgot about during long hours of working, walking and taking calls. I found myself occasionally rotating the buds in my ear to get a more stable fit — and I actually find the cheaper Buds 2 to fit more securely — but the Buds 2 Pro are still some of the most comfortable earbuds I’ve worn.

Very good sound quality and battery life

galaxy buds 2 pro lead

Mike Andronico/CNN

I’ve been using the Buds 2 Pro as my main music headphones for a week, and I’d be happy to do so for longer. Samsung’s high-end earbuds were a great companion for my daily playlists, pumping out satisfying (but not overpowering) bass and crisp guitars while highlighting lots of small sonic details I don’t always notice on cheaper buds. And while I liked how the Buds 2 Pro sounded out of the box, there are a number of equalizer settings that Android users can play with should they want to pump up the bass, up the treble or enjoy a softer overall sound. This level of customization is on par with rivals like the Sony LinkBuds S and Jabra Elite 7 Active, and is something you won’t find on Apple buds like the AirPods Pro and Beats Fit Pro.

One of the big new features Samsung is touting for the Buds 2 Pro is its “24-bit Hi-Fi sound,” which promises clearer, less-compromised audio quality than the 16-bit sound you’ll get from many Bluetooth earbuds. Whether you hear the upgrade in sound quality comes down to a number of different factors — you’ll need a discerning ear and a high-fidelity music streaming subscription, for starters — but I did notice a small difference during side-by-side tests.

When listening to a Master-quality recording of “Follows” by Tigers Jaw on Tidal, I found the overall sound to be louder and fuller on the Buds 2 Pro compared to the standard Buds 2. Subtle background sounds, such as piano melodies and vocal harmonies, were also much easier to hear on Samsung’s newer buds. I’m not sure whether to chalk this up to the 24-bit audio support or the fact that the Buds 2 Pro may just have a bigger, louder speaker, but either way, I do think Samsung’s premium earbuds sound better than their predecessors.

The Buds 2 Pro also support head-tracked 360-degree audio, another feature whose usefulness will depend on which apps and services you use. It works best with Dolby Atmos tracks in supported streaming services (like Tidal and Amazon Music Unlimited), as you’ll hear music coming from fixed points even as you move your head — just like you would at a live concert. The feature can also convert stereo audio to 360-degree sound, as I experienced while watching a YouTube video. It all worked fine and is a neat little trick, though I personally find Apple’s Spatial Audio — which requires an iPhone and a compatible set of AirPods — to be a clearer, smoother experience.

Samsung’s latest earbuds are rated for 5 hours of continuous playback with active noise cancellation (ANC) on and 18 hours total with the case, and that more than lines up with my testing. After nearly a week of on-and-off use — lots of which was done with ANC activated — I only found myself having to charge up the case once.

Reliable active noise cancellation and lots of features (if you’re on Android)

galaxy buds 2 pro 7

Mike Andronico/CNN

The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro’s active noise cancellation has been a huge boon during my daily routine, quieting the sounds of loud construction during my morning walks and significantly dampening my loud bedroom fan when I’m crunching away through the summer heat. I find Samsung’s latest buds to be on par with the AirPods Pro in terms of noise suppression, and a little bit better than the standard Buds 2 and Buds Pro.

When I needed to actually hear what was going on around me, the Buds 2 Pro’s ambient noise functionality was very dependable for amplifying the sounds of nearby cars or allowing me to hold a conversation without having to take them out of my ears. And just like on the previous Buds Pro, there’s a very useful Voice Detect setting that will automatically switch from ANC to ambient sound once the buds detect that you’re talking — perfect for when you need to order a quick coffee or say “hi” to a friend on the street.

While the Buds 2 Pro’s ANC and ambient noise features are both great, it’s a bit puzzling that they’re no longer adjustable. The original Buds Pro offered two levels of ANC and four levels of ambient noise — letting you customize how much noise you block out or let in — whereas the Buds 2 Pro simply lets you toggle the two features on and off. It’s not a huge drawback considering how well the two modes work out of the box, but it is a peculiar omission.

Beyond noise control, the Buds 2 Pro offer a good amount of customization options via the Galaxy Wearable app — if you’re on Android, that is. You can use the app to toggle features like voice detect and 360 audio, summon an equalizer to fit the audio to your liking and take advantage of a “Find My Earbuds” tool that uses Samsung’s SmartThings app to help you find your lost buds if you misplace them. You can also use the Galaxy Wearable app to customize the controls slightly, but most options boil down to simply turning them on and off. I appreciate that you can choose what a long-press of either earbud does — including switching noise control, activating Bixby or opening Spotify — though I was a bit disappointed that if you assign volume up to one ear, the other automatically switches to volume down. It’s a very specific gripe (I’d love to have one touch option for noise control and another for quickly lowering the volume), but it frustrated me nonetheless.

It’s also worth noting that certain features — like 24-bit audio and 360-degree sound — are limited specifically to those with Galaxy devices. Still, if you’ve got the right hardware, the Buds 2 Pro give you some solid options for tailoring your experience.

galaxy buds 2 pro 3

Mike Andronico/CNN

While the Buds 2 Pro have the same great physical design as previous Galaxy Buds, they also retain my biggest annoyance with Samsung earbuds: The touch controls are inconsistent. While I was able to mostly pause and skip tracks without issue, I frequently activated the touch controls by accident whenever I lightly adjusted the buds in my ear. On the flip side, I also had instances of the buds not registering my taps (or registering them incorrectly). I found the Buds 2 Pro’s touch controls to be a little more reliable than those of previous Galaxy Buds, but they’re still finicky — and a big reason why I usually stick to buds with physical buttons like the Beats Fit Pro and Jabra Elite 7 Active.

galaxy buds 2 pro 2

Mike Andronico/CNN

As with most other Galaxy Buds, you’ll be locked out of many of the Buds 2 Pro’s key features if you’re an iPhone user. There’s no Galaxy Wearable app for iOS, which means no audio or control customization (you can, thankfully, still use ANC and ambient noise on iPhone via the on-ear controls). And while all Android users can download the Galaxy Wearable app, you’ll specifically need a Galaxy device to take advantage of features like 24-bit Hi-Fi sound and 360-degree audio. The Buds 2 Pro worked just fine with my iPhone 13 Pro when it came to everyday music listening and phone calls, but I would really only recommend these buds to folks with a Galaxy phone considering how much you’ll miss out on otherwise.

In a vacuum, the Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are a very good pair of premium wireless earbuds. They look, feel and sound great, with lots of customization features and Hi-Fi audio support for those in the Samsung ecosystem. If you own a Galaxy phone and don’t mind paying up for high-quality sound, you’ll find a lot to like here.

However, great active noise-canceling earbuds have become much more affordable these days, making the Buds 2 Pro’s $229.99 price tag a major sticking point, especially given some of their drawbacks. If you’re a Samsung user that can live without the absolute best sound quality possible (which you might not notice anyway), the standard Galaxy Buds 2 also offer ANC and can be had for as low as $129.99. For those seeking more robust noise cancellation, last year’s Galaxy Buds Pro are still a great pick and frequently dip below their $199.99 retail price.

And if you want a more platform-agnostic pair of buds with a similarly great feature set, the ultra-adaptive $199.99 Sony LinkBuds S are some of the best earbuds we’ve tested. The Galaxy Buds 2 Pro are worth keeping an eye out for during sales, but for most people, they’re simply too hard to justify for the price.


0.22 ounces

0.22 ounces

0.19 ounces

0.17 ounces

Water resistance





Active noise cancellation






White, Graphite, Bora Purple

Phantom Silver, Phantom Black, Phantom Violet


White, Black, Desert Sand

Software support




iOS, Android

Hi-Fi audio

Yes (24-bit sound)



Yes (LDAC)






Leave a Reply